Ten solid mutual funds for income investors

These mutual funds provide a reliable place to invest and might help supplement an income.

Richard Drew/AP
Trader Edward Curran works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

If you're an investor looking to boost income rather than long-term growth, you have a ton of great options. Many well-crafted mutual funds are designed to help income investors meet their objectives, whether it be for retirement or to just have some extra cash on hand.

Some of these funds are pure income plays designed for those in or near retirement, while others also offer some nice capital appreciation. Consider these 10 mutual funds designed for income investors.

1. Vanguard Retirement Income [VTINX]

This is a good performer with a nice mix of government and corporate bonds, cash, and some stocks. There's also a super-low expense ratio of just 0.16%, so you'll get to keep more of your money.

2. Vanguard Dividend Growth [VDIGX]

A great, low-cost fund for those looking for dividend income, as well as capital appreciation. This fund invests in mostly large-cap companies like UPS, Coca-Cola, and Lockheed Martin that show a potential for increasing dividends. It's hard to argue with a three-year return of 14%.

3. Fidelity Freedom Index Income Fund [FIKFX]

There are better performing funds out there, but this one does have some of the lowest fees in the class, so your total return may be on par or better than most competitors. This fund advertises a mix of 7% in domestic equity funds, 7% in international equity funds, 46% in bond funds, and 30% in short-term funds.

4. BlackRock LifePath Index Retirement Portfolio [LIRIX]

Similar to the Fidelity Freedom Index Income Fund, with a nice and low expense ratio of .16%. This is a little more stock-heavy than some income funds, with about 40% in domestic and international equities. This makes it a riskier fund than some, but most investors will not complain about a three-year return of 6.34%.

5. T. Rowe Price Equity Income Fund [PRFDX]

This is a great fund for younger investors who want to boost income, but are willing to accept some risk in order to see growth, as well. This fund has most of its holdings in stocks with a history of paying high dividends. (General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Exxon Mobil are among its largest holdings.) Those dividends can boost your income, and most investors won't complain about annual returns of about 14% over three and five-year time horizons.

6. TIAA-CREF Lifecycle [TLRIX]

Expenses are a little higher than Vanguard's, but you can't argue with the performance of this "fund of funds" which is up nearly 4% this year and 8% in five years. About a quarter of this fund is invested in TIAA-CREF's main bond fund.

7. T. Rowe Price Real Estate Fund [TRREX]

It's a good idea to have some real estate in any investment portfolio, and this fund is a good way to get that exposure and some nice income along the way. Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REITs, generally pay higher-than-average dividends, and this fund has seen consistent annual growth in recent years.

8. Fidelity Select Utilities Portfolio [FSUTX]

Utilities are another industry that belongs in a well-diversified portfolio. This particular fund invests in companies like Exelon and Nexterra that pay solid dividends. There is some stability in having exposure to this industry, as no one is shutting off their air conditioning or lights anytime soon. This fund is free to trade on Fidelity, and though it's had a tough 2015, it's up more than 10% in the last three years.

9. JPMorgan SmartRetirement Income Fund [JSRAX]

This fund has a mix of about 50% bonds and 35% stocks, so it's not as fixed income-heavy as some other funds. Performance is solid at more than 6% in the last three years and nearly 7% in the last five. Its net expense ratio of .78% is on the low side compared to most mutual funds. Fidelity customers can trade this fund without a commission.

10. Fidelity Income Replacement Funds

These are not your typical mutual funds, but they can be useful for people looking for income up to a target date. These funds offer regular monthly payments, similar to an annuity, that increase with inflation. It's important to note that the investor is left with a zero balance at the end, so these funds may not be ideal for everyone. I am not a usually a big fan of target date funds because fees are often on the high side. But these funds have reasonable expense ratios of between .35% and .68%.

This article is from Tim Lemke of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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